There has been a great deal of discussion recently about intelligent design and evolution around campus, particularly in the "Letters to the Editor" area, if you haven't noticed (i.e. don't read the paper at all or are blind).
I believe the origin of this whole surge of debate was the Student Voice publication put out by the local church, The Rock. I don't read this paper and regardless of your feelings toward it, you cannot deny the impact it has had on the campus agenda.
As is the case so often with these debates, they begin with the purest of intentions but far too quickly decay into mudslinging contests. What are really disgusting are the personal attacks that result from all of this.
We had people telling Christians that they needed to disregard their Bibles in favor of schoolbooks, as if the two texts could be compared at all.
There was a poor choice of words in some instances on the behalf of the Christians and proponents of intelligent design who spoke out in opposition to evolutionary science.
Both parties were at fault in some regard, though perhaps not equally. Unfortunately, in the course of these events came a response to the design theory that was so deceptive, so asinine, and so unethical as to warrant my attention here.
This particular argument came sometime last week wherein it was claimed that the Bible taught that the Earth was flat (referencing Dan. 4:7-8); that our solar system revolves around the Earth (referencing Ps. 19:1-6 and Joshua 10:12-14); and that we are to kill people who work on Sunday (referencing God's rules for the Jews in Exodus 35:2).
This is absolutely pathetic. If any of the above references are actually checked, it will be found that the arguments pulled from the particular passages are either completely irrelevant to the text (as is the case with the references to Daniel and Psalms) or gross exaggerations that seek to pull something out of the text that's simply not there (examples of taking texts out of context).
The reference in Exodus about the Sabbath was for the Israelites after their freedom from Egypt and was part of the old covenant. If someone bothered to read the Bible, they would find that this is no longer the case; Jesus worked on the Sabbath and corrected those who scorned him for it.
This particular argument then asserted that the Bible is untrue and irrelevant for today. Congratulations! In discrediting the Bible, you just accomplished what 2,000 years of skepticism has been unable to do, bravo! But enough about the absent-mindedness that plagues certain people in this discussion, what about the discussion itself?
Dr. William Dembski, a design theorist at the forefront of the debate, says that three things need to be kept in mind before you decide that intelligent design is not science.
The first of these things is that science is not ruled by a majority vote. Science has adopted things in the past that were not true and later conceded to views that were once looked down upon. Because intelligent design is a minority position in the field right now does not invalidate it.
Secondly, any religious or philosophical underpinnings in an idea do not immediately make it unscientific. He quotes Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins as saying that Darwin made it possible to be an atheist and an intellectual all at once. Many evolutionists walk away with philosophical or religious views based on the theory and this does not invalidate evolution, so why should it invalidate intelligent design?
And last of all, to label intelligent design as a "myth" or as "fundamentalism," and thus "un-scientific," is nothing more than a demonizing, semantic Gestapo tactic used by those who are at the end of their rope and have nothing more to argue. Dembski also paints a clear picture of how intelligent design and creationism are not linked to one another because intelligent design does not require the God that creationism puts forth. This is further pronounced by the fact that many non-Christians have been design theorists.
All sorts of thinkers throughout history from agnostics to deists (the religion of many of our forefathers) have affirmed an intelligent cause. There is a growing base of scientific evidence that points to this supposition and a growing base of supporters in the scientific community who are willing to undergo ridicule and scorn at the hands of the majority for thinking outside of the box.
The established orthodoxy of evolution in modern science does not require disproving because it has yet to prove itself. If today's schools and institutions of "higher learning" do not see fit to teach intelligent design alongside evolution as a supplement or theory of equal status, then they do nothing more than handicap the minds of those they seek to teach. And if this is the case, then what a pathetic crutch evolution proves to be.
Tyler Wittman is a senior speech communication major. His column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian. Information from this article was pulled from "In Defense of Intelligent Design" by William A. Dembski from the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science edited by Philip Clayton.